Monday, 30 July 2012

Japan Trip: Yokohama

We are in Japan! And Japan is Awesome! My family lived here when I was born and I have not been back since we moved to the US so it is kind of a bucket list thing of mine to come back and visit. So I am pretty excited to be here. After spending a day here Lyndon is too. Coco is happy to be with us. We love her.

We have divided up our time between the Tokyo area and down in the Kansai area. We are lucky to have family and friends that lives close to these areas.

Our first day we spent with my cousin and her family in Yokohama. Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan. We spent the day walking around the city enjoying being back in the first world.

We attended a Japanese branch. I was able to practice my Japanese some. I was understood and could understand. I took several semesters of Japanese when I attended university so I was very happy that all the hard work I put in has paid off a little. It has been a couple of years so I do not remember as much as I would like. I do remeber enough to get us around so that is good enough for now.

There are giant ravens all around Japan. They are huge and loud! I was shocked at how big they were.

Found a beautiful gothic cathedral. I was surprised at the archietecture. There is quite a variety. We have seen gothic, classical, Japanese, modern, and post modern.

View of Yokohama.
We found a oragami shop. It had tons of beautiful origami paper and others.

Yokohama is home to Chinatown. This is the third chinatown I have been to and my favorite one. We enjoyed the most delicious chinese food I have ever had. My cousin's husband directed us to the best things. We were lucky to have him as our tour guide for the day.

I tried out the fish pedicure where you stick your feet in a pool of these tiny fish that eat the dead skin off your feet. Babies were free so Cosette and Yuki did it with me. It felt really weird but it was fun. I would do it again. It felt like one of those massage chairs on your feet. I will say I did not like it when the fish were in between my toes. Other than that is it was fine. It does work too. My feet felt nice and soft afterwards. Cosette enjoyed splashing around in the water. Yuki did not like sticking her feet in the water.

We visited a Budist temple.

We walked down to the Landmark area. It was a beautiful walk down the coast.

The babies were a hit with everyone. I think everyone that walked by them smiled and said kawai (cute in Japanese).
We visited Isenguard aka the Landmark tower. It is the third largest structure in Japan. It is almost as tall as the one world trade center. We went to the top and snuk into some of the rooms to look at the view. The Yokohama/Tokyo area is huge!

Landmark tower which I think looks like Isenguard in Lord of the Rings.

It was Cosette's Birthday that day so we went out and got some pastries. Asia has the best bread. There was this place in the Philippines that had the best bread! I have never liked bread that much. The bread in Japan is the same.

Yokohama is beautiful at night. We have this scene as a computer back ground so it was cool to see it in person.
We had the best day and our trip was only starting.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Happy First Birthday Cosette

Sunday was my baby's first birthday! I cannot believe that she is already one years old. She has changed so much. I miss my infant Cosette. The day she was born was one of the best days of our lives. She was perfect in every way when she was born and she still is perfect in every way.

We are in Japan now and did not celebrate her birthday properly. Once we get back to the US we will have her digging in her own cake.

Happy Birthday Cosette!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Goodbye Philippines

Our time in the Philippines has come to an end. I am kind of surprised how enjoyable it was because it was not easy in the beginning. I am happy to say that if I had to I could live there. We made a lot of good friends and will miss them very much. Everyone we met was so good there and we would have gotten through this experience with out them.

Lyndon's co-workers threw us a couple of goodbye and birthday parties before we left. Everyone was sad that we were leaving before Cosette's birthday so they wanted to celebrate it early.

The Public Affairs office threw us a fun going away lunch.

We ate traditional Filipino food at the snack attack Lyndon's co-workers in the finance office gave us. Above is pancit which is rice noodles topped with a stir fry vegetables, meat, and eggs. Below is another pancit dish and lumpia which is an egg roll type food. Cosette loved the lumpia. She saw us dipping ours in a sauce and decided that is what she wanted to do with hers. I guess she liked it because she kept dippin it in.

Our fun birthday sign and balloons for me, Cosette, and the other July birthdays.

Cosette enjoyed her ice cream cake from Dairy Queen.

Us with some of Lyndon's co-workers in finance.

The Manila, Philppines Temple is across the street from the Church office buildings so we went over and took some fun pictures.

We are now headed to Japan for a couple of weeks before we head back the United States.

Goodbye Philippines! We will miss you.

Pearls, pearls, pearls

Manila is the place to get pearls. They have fresh water and the deep sea pearls in all shapes, sizes, and color. The best place to get them is the market at the Green Hills mall. This is where all my friends advised me to go because you can get the best deals on them there. We made a stop there and this is what we saw.

This is how all the vendors were set up. I loved seeing all the different colors and shapes of the pearls. The deep sea pearls are the best quality and most expensive. That is just because they are HUGE and perfectly round. They are the highest quality available. The fresh water pearls are less expensive because they are not perfectly round. The larger and rounder the pearl the more expensive it is. I got a chance to use my bartering skills and won the price I wanted.

The pearl market is huge. You kind of almost have to stay on one path so you do not get lost.

Sorry this picture is not great but we found some really fun wood carved products here.

These are frog purses made from real frogs. Disgusting! They are a souvenir favorite among the senior missionary couples for their grandkids. I could not touch them. The claws are still attached!

Aside from the frog purses the trip was enjoyable. We got our pearls at the price we wanted. It was great.

Taxi Views Part 2

Here are some more photos that I took while driving around the city. Enjoy!

Locals hanging out.

Yup, that is a viewing on the side of the street.

Street food.


Side street with lots of street vendors.


Shops and houses.

Cool monument. It reminds me of the Magellan marker we saw in Cebu.

This picture was take while we our cab was parallel in the street. That is how those cab drivers roll.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Work Filipino Style

Here at the end of our stay in  the Philippines I thought I should talk a little about what I've done while here.

My work has been divided between two organizations. First I worked for the Area Legal Counsel Office of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the Philippine Area Office. The legal office here is only three people. Doug McAllister is the Area Legal Counsel, David Farnsworth is the Assistant Area Legal Counsel, and Cyntha Pelobello is the Legal Secretary. I did work in several different areas including contemplating the state of divorce in the Philippines, drafting donation deeds for various humanitarian efforts, researching the state of the priest-penitent privilege, creating pamphlets to teach priesthood leaders how to  to help victims of abuse recover and learning about the legislative processes in the Philippines.

I also worked for the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy. Here I mostly researched the state of women's rights in Islam. As part of this research I learned a lot about Islamic Law and how it is applied in different countries. Understanding Islam has helped me better understand the conflicts in the Middle East (and here in the Philippines). In the south of the Philippines are several islands that are mostly Muslim. For five hundred years armed guerrillas have been fighting for independence from Spain, then from the United States, and now from the rest of the Philippines. But most of the people prefer to maintain some ties to the Philippines while keeping some autonomy. One result of this struggle is that in the Philippines what the law is depends on your religion. Muslims, for example, can practice polygamy, can obtain divorce, and have their own system of inheritance. But if you are not Muslim you may only have one wife, you can never get a divorce, and you have a different system of inheritance. This dual system of family law exists in several other countries. An extreme example is Egypt where family law is different for each major religious group.

During my free time here in the Philippines I have been researching different law firms in preparation for interviews in August. Learning about each firm is important so I can make an informed decision about which firms to interview with. Each firm has a different culture and work ethic, so I want to make sure I get hired by a firm that fits me.

Christine in her free time has been reading. She read Little Women, as well as several other books. One book she read was my book. She has given me some very enlightening insights about ways to improve it. I am grateful for her guidance, and I am glad to say I have made some improvements already. Now I see how important the editing process is to ensure that the book is clear and internally coherent. So after I finish this edit I will be asking several people to read it and provide comments.

One more thing I've been working on is my Family Conference that I am planning for February at Columbia University. I have been emailing many different professors and authors to ask that they come and speak at my conference. Several outstanding professors have agreed to come and speak at the conference, so my work has paid off. I'll be releasing more information as the Conference nears.

So Christine and I have been kept pretty busy. Our time in the Philippines has been educational, enlightening, and invigorating. It feels good to have conquered the initial culture shock and to come away knowing our time in the Philippines was a success.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Trip to the Bazar

Every month the American Women's Association organizes a bazar. Tons of vendors come with anything and everything. It is fantastic! The first week we were in the Philippines they had their May bazar and it was a bit overwhelming. It is held in this huge room and there a tons of vendors from the front all the way to the back. I am the type of person who likes to see everything before I make a decision on what to perchase. So my first trip to the bazar I came home with I think only two things. I have been here for the June and July bazars so by the thrid time around I am a pro. I know where the places I like are, I know when I am being ripped off, and I know exactly what I want.  

Here Coco and I are at the bazar. You can see how big the room is. Sorry the pictures are not great. The group that runs the bazar does not allow pictures so I risked getting kicked out to take these.

Filipinos are very creative. They take whatever materials they have and make whatever they can. Above is a booth that sells things made out of Pineapple leaves. It is beautiful.

This booth is Cosette's favorite. This is where we got her bunny house. They sell all sorts of children's toys, books, learning aids, decorations, etc. All of it is hand sewn. I fell like I am ripping them off because it is so cheap too. Coco's bunny house was under $10. In the States something that nicely made would have been $50.

Here is Coco playing with her cute bunny house. We walked by the place that sold them and she grabbed one of the display bunnies and would not let it go. I felt bad because we did not bring many toys with us so I gave in and bought it for her. Best purchase ever! She loves playing with it.

I gave in again and got her a Noah's Ark. Too cute not to pass up.

I really enjoyed going to the bazar. It was a great way to see nice quality Filipino products. They are great seamstresses! There were a lot of booths selling gorgeous quilts. I found a disney princess one that was beautiful. There was another vendor that I bought some dishes made out of capice which is shells that looks like mother of pearl. It is beautiful. All sorts of hand carved figurines, cross stich things, jewelry, clothes, etc. You think of it and it was probably there. The Filipinos are known for their beautiful nativities they make. I saw some pretty amazing ones at the bazar. Even though all the shopping was great I think my favorite thing about it was the food vendors. There was an Indian food restaurant that was there every time. I was in heaven.
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